In light of Ms. Bernadeen Silva’s contribution to the civil society and in recognition of her commitment towards safeguarding Peace, Social Justice and Civil Rights, the above award is announced by Women’s Education Research Centre every other year in her name as a means of continuing her dream. Although various awards are being awarded for artists, social workers and scholars, there has never been an award specifically meant for Feminist Activists in Sri Lanka. Hence this award is awarded specifically for someone who has struggled with commitment for the betterment of women and the community in Sri Lanka. Therefore it is a pioneering attempt to appreciate the women’s movement. The selection criteria was based on their feminist vision, principles of democracy, pluralism, ethnic harmony, inter-religious harmony, and someone who had worked to uplift the marginalized and underprivileged (caste, class, urban poor, women in prison, women with disabilities, sex workers, LGBTIQ etc.)
In 2015, out of many nominations received, the selection committee selected Ms. Mala Dassanayaka and Ms. Rohini Weerasinghe for their endless and tireless contribution to the wellbeing of women and Sri Lanka’s feminist movement. Women’s Education and Research Centre organized a function on 10th February 2016 from 4.00 pm to 5.30 pm to felicitate the two feminists receiving the awards. The hosting organization for this event was Women and Media Collective. Over 40 attendees were present at the award ceremony. Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran who is the Executive Director from Women’s Education and Research Centre gave the keynote address. Dr.Sepali Kottegoda gave the welcome speech.
The two awardees addressed the audience and spoke of their experiences and vision for the future. Dr. Sepali Kottegoda who is the head of Women and Media Collective, translated the speeches of Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran and Mala Dassanayake from English to Sinhala and Sinhala to English. Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran presented the awardees with certificates, plaques and cash prizes. All were invited to refreshments by Women’s Education Research Centre, following the conclusion of the award ceremony.